Learn how the waitlist for EA Emergency Family Shelter works

Learn how the waitlist works, how the state will contact you when a spot becomes available, and what to do next.

This page contains information on the waitlist for the EA Emergency Family Shelter program. Visit our other pages to Learn how to apply for shelter and learn more about what to expect in EA Emergency Family Shelter

Table of Contents

Some families who apply for emergency shelter may be placed on a waitlist

The state is not able to expand shelter capacity beyond 7,500 shelter unitsDue to this, the family shelter system may not have enough space to shelter every eligible family right away.

If you apply and are eligible but there is no unit available, you will be placed on a waitlist. Note: Eligibility requirements for family shelters are not being changed.

How can I confirm I am on the waitlist? 

To confirm that you're on the waitlist, call (866) 584-0653 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed on weekends and state holidays). Unfortunately, we're not able to predict how long it will take for a shelter space to become available. 

Important actions after you have been placed on the waitlist

After our staff confirms that you appear eligible, we will give you a list of any documents you still need to give us to verify that you are eligible. You need to give our staff all the documents within 30 days.

*Please remember*

If you do not give us all documents needed to show you are eligible for EA Emergency Family Shelter, you will be removed from the waitlist after 30 days

If you have a change in your health condition

You may also call (866) 584-0653 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed weekends and state holidays) to tell us if there has been a change in your health condition and you think you should be rescreened.

Will the state shelter system have more shelter units in the future?

Yes, but a very limited amount. Right now, if we do not have enough space, we are putting eligible families on a waitlist. When you are next on the waitlist, we will try to contact you by phone, email, and text.

Please give us as many ways to contact you as you can,and be sure to check your email and answer your phone.

How is the order of the waitlist determined?

  • We will ask each EA eligible family to complete a Clinical and Safety Risk Screening. This helps identify the priority order for families on the waitlist based on urgent health needs and/or personal safety risks. 
  • Families that have similar needs/risks will be ranked based on when they were found eligible.
  • If you would like to know more, you can read our EA Guidance on Waitlist and Prioritization Procedures. 

Who developed the prioritization framework?   

We developed this process with help from experts at The Department of Public Health, The Department of Transitional Assistance (help with domestic violence issues), The Department of Children and Families (help with other critical safety risks affecting children).

If you have a change in a health condition 

You can call (866) 584-0653 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed weekends and state holidays) to tell us if there has been a change in your health condition and you think you should be rescreened.

Once I'm on the waitlist, how will you let me know if a unit becomes available?

The state will call, email and text you that shelter is available for you.
(Please make sure we have your cell phone number and email)

To accept your space in shelter:

  • You have until 12pm the NEXT business day to respond. 
  • For example: You get a call, email, and text at 11am on Monday. To get placed, you must call OR email OR text back by Tuesday at 12pm

If you do not respond by 12pm the next business day:

  • The state will go to the next person on the waitlist.
  • You will NOT be removed from the waitlist or lose your spot in line for not responding in time the first time.
  • HOWEVER, you WILL be removed from the waitlist if you are offered a shelter spot three times and do not respond by 12pm the next day each time.

Getting to the shelter

Most families will need to arrive at the shelter with their things by 5pm.

You can only bring two bags per person. Each bag can only be about the size of a 30-gallon trash bag.

If you need help getting to shelter, our staff will help you get a ride. You must be ready to be picked up as soon as possible after the ride has been confirmed

Resources that may help you while you're on the waitlist

Summary of Resources for Families on the EA Waitlist (also below)

Printable Flyer: English

Resources to help pay for housing 


Families who are eligible for EA Emergency Family Shelter may also be eligible for the HomeBASE program. HomeBASE can help pay up to $45,000 over 3 years for rent and other costs. 

Printable Flyer: English | Spanish | Portuguese | Haitian Creole | Cape Verdean Creole 

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT)

Low-income households with or without children can apply to RAFT. RAFT pays up to $7,000 to help with rent, mortgage, utilities and other housing costs, including moving to new housing.

Printable Flyer: English | Spanish | Portuguese | Haitian CreoleCape Verdean Creole 

Resources to search for housing

Other resources 


  • You can use Findhelp.org to find food, housing, transportation, and more in your area.

Call Mass2-1-1.

  • This free state hotline has information about basic needs like childcare, food, transportation, utility assistance, and housing.
  • Mass2-1-1 is also available on the web, and has live chat if you click “211 CHAT” in the top right corner 

Visit our Family Welcome Centers in 2 locations in the Boston area

  • They can help families apply for food and cash benefits through the Department of Transitional Assistance.
  • You can also get basic supplies like diapers, hygiene products, and formula.


  • Family Welcome Center Allston: 14 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 
    Open: Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm; Saturday-Sunday: 9:00am-3:00pm  
  • Family Welcome Center Quincy: Cove Fine Arts Building, 56 Wendell Ave, Quincy, MA 
    Open: Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 8:00pm; Saturday-Sunday: 9:00am-3:00pm  

You can also visit our Family Resource Centers
These centers (different from the Family Welcome Centers shared above) are open across Massachusetts to support families in accessing basic needs and resources. Find locations near you. 

Contact   for Learn how the waitlist for EA Emergency Family Shelter works


Open M-F 8am-5pm - Closed on State Holidays


Offices across the state - Please see list on 'Apply for EA' webpage, Statewide, MA 02114

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